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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 May 2004

17 May 2004

17 May 2004 The family of a 14-year-old whose school referred her to a counsellor who arranged a secret abortion are considering legal action, according to the Daily Mail. The family are apparently considering suing the school on the grounds that the girl, who has been left 'traumatised' by the experience, did not properly consent to the abortion. [Sky News and The Scotsman, 14 May ] In spite of the debate sparked by this case, a government-funded advertising campaign is to go ahead to remind under-16s that they can ask for contraception or abortion without their parents being told. The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy claim that many children do not seek sex advice because they are afraid their parents will be told. However, Family and Youth Concern warn that providing contraceptive and abortion services to children without parental knowledge "breaks down the relationship of trust within the family." [The Times of London, 14 May ] Archbishop Peter Smith, chairman of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has described the case as "an appalling affront to the proper rights and responsibilities of parents." In a statement, he said: "It undermines the values of family life and in particular the rights of parents to nurture, guide and at times properly make decisions in the best interests of their children." [Independent Catholic News, 14 May ] The American Public Health Association has called for the Food and Drug Administration to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning after pill, claiming that 'the FDA's decision impedes access to an important public health invention for women across the country.' The Association adopted a policy last year of supporting wider access to the morning after pill, claiming that 50% of all pregnancies in the US are unintended. [Medical News Today, 12 May ] The morning after pill is misleadingly labelled 'emergency contraception' but can cause an early abortion by preventing the implantation of the newly conceived embryo. Research from the University of Texas has shown that the birth control injection Depo-Provera appears to promote bone loss more strongly than birth control tablets. In a study of 191 women, those who used Depo-Provera for 24 months lost an average 5.7% bone density, compared with 2.6% among women who used pills. The study was published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology. [Healthy Pages, 13 May ] A woman who refused an abortion that might have saved her life has been canonised by Pope John Paul II. Gianna Beretta Molla, who died in 1962 at the age of 39, discovered during her pregnancy that she had a tumour in her womb but insisted on carrying her baby to term. Her husband and children joined a crowd of 50,000 in Rome for the ceremony. [The Herald, 17 May ] A new screening procedure could improve the success rate of IVF, according to a US study published in the Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine. The test identifies embryos that are most likely to implant by measuring the concentration of sHLA-G, a genetic marker, which is found in the media surrounding the embryo. [The Telegraph, 17 May ] The US National Institute of Health has defended restrictions on embryonic stem cell funding laid down by President Bush and made it clear that the White House does not intended to change its policy. In a letter to members of Congress, Dr Elias Zerhouni, NIH director, stated that much of the research that needs to be done is being supported with federal funding. However, it also states that President Bush believes that taxpayers should not have to fund the destruction of human embryos, even if such work were to speed up some areas of research. [Reuters, 15 May ] New guidelines issued by the Irish College of general Practitioners have warned doctors who oppose abortion not to use 'unprofessional' means to discourage a patient from going abroad for an abortion. The authors said that there was no evidence that doctors were unsympathetic to patients seeking abortion. [RTE, 15 May ] A 15-year-old schoolgirl from Kent, UK, has told a television channel that she was offered a secret abortion after a 10-minute counselling session. Michelle Down told her family just two days before the late-term abortion was due to take place and decided to keep the baby. [The Scotsman, 15 May ] The Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative has now helped 1,000 women, seven years after it was founded. The initiative, based in Glasgow, offers financial help, advice and support to women who might otherwise opt for abortion. Sister Roseann Reddy the co-ordinator said: "A lot of the time, people who come to us are just dealing with the shock of being pregnant. We have had young women who have come here quite minded to have abortions because they feel that there are no other options available to them. Young women often feel that the only choice they have is to have an abortion when that is simply not the case." [The Scotsman, 15 May ]

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